Foreign students are valuable to the United States. Many take part in important research. Most have to pay the full costs for their education. That helps universities meet their budgets. International students and their families put twelve-thousand-million dollars into the American economy last year. That number is from the Institute of International Education, based in New York.
Now, many education officials say they are concerned that fewer students will come to the United States for the next school year. Classes begin in August or September. The officials base their concern partly on a decrease in students planning to attend intensive English programs during the summer.
Just over half the schools in the American Association of Intensive English Programs were questioned for an online study in May. The members said they expected nineteen percent fewer students than last summer. They said they expected more than thirty percent fewer students than in the summer of two-thousand-one.
The members said one reason for the expected decrease is slower and more restrictive United States action on travel documents. Security has increased since the terrorist attacks of September eleventh, two-thousand-one. The schools also blamed the travel problems caused by the outbreak of SARS, severe acute respiratory syndrome.
In recent years, an increasing number of students have come to the United States to study. The Institute of International Education says these students represent more than four percent of all students in American colleges and universities. It says the number of international students reached a record high of more than five-hundred-eighty-thousand last year. The largest number came from India. Before last year the largest number came from China.
For some years now, it has been possible for students in other countries to get an American education without leaving home. Several schools offer academic degrees online. These include Jones International University in Englewood, Colorado, and the University of Phoenix in Arizona.
George Washington University in Washington, D-C, is currently establishing an online program for members of the royal family in Saudi Arabia.
This VOA Special English Education Report was written by Jerilyn Watson.